By February 1945,
the Allies collected the captured German soldiers still
in France in the vicinity of the supply ports.
After crossing the
Rhine, the number of prisoners exploded and temporary
camps were set up in the open field along the Rhine and
the Neckar rivers, from Heilbronn to Rheinsberg.
There were camps at
the following locations:
Heidesheim, Urmitz, Böhl,
Those who now
believed themselves in safety were terribly wrong. The
camps with 50,000 up to 100,000 men were completely
A total of 900,000 prisoners camped on the Rhine meadows. The future
president of the United States, General Eisenhower,
refused the captured soldiers the status of prisoners of
war and interned them as "disarmed enemy personnel".
Thus the German prisoners were denied rights under the
DEATH ON THE
missing - food, drinking water, sanitation, shelter,
medicine, blankets and clothing, although all that were
available in sufficient quantity in the area, for
example food in Wehrmacht depots and accomodation in
barracks still intact. Residents of the neighborhood who
wanted to help were threatened with firearm and heavy
Holes were dug with
bare hands, creating a makeshift protection against wind
Due to desperate
hunger the men ate almost everything: frogs, snails,
roots, grass and from sheer thirst drank their own urine.
Late April began a
continuous rain transforming all in wet, cold mud desert.
There were no
toilets, tree trunks or simple pits were used as
latrines. Due to the incredible hygienic conditions, the
total malnutrition, permanent hypothermia and lack of
medicine death was omnipresent.
pneumonia, dysentery and typhoid. Tens of thousands died